Open Government Book by Oreilly – eBook is now released for free

Open Government Book

Open Government

I have been reading up many articles available on the internet relating the to Government 2.0 . The articles though elightening were not covering details indepth or  did not provide more meaty knowledge on the subject like a book would do. Thats when i stumbled upon “Open Government” book published by O’Reilly. It is a collection essays, interview and case studies that provide a non partisan account as it becomes transparent, collaborative and open.

The eBook version was released as free as part of #PDFTribute movement after the sad demise of Aaron H. Schwartz , a young activist and hacker. It can be freely downloaded at  from Github.

Open Government was published in 2010 by O’Reilly Media. The United States had just elected a president in 2008, who, on his first day in office, issued an executive order committing his administration to “an unprecedented level of openness in government.” The contributors of Open Government had long fought for transparency and openness in government, as well as access to public information. Aaron Swartz was one of these contributors (Chapter 25: When is Transparency Useful?). Aaron was a hacker, an activist, a builder, and a respected member of the technology community. O’Reilly Media is making Open Government free to all to access in honor of Aaron. #PDFtribute

— Tim O’Reilly, January 15, 2013

Open Government : Collaboration, Transparency and Participation in Practice

If you like to buy a printed copy follow the links:

(Flipkart Link) Open Government Book – Delivery in India

(Amazon Link)  Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice

Technology behind the Next Generation WebApps for Government

The next generation web applications for Governments are using frameworks like Ruby of app development. Server scalability using the Amazon Cloud and other services Amazon RDS and Amazon SES. Here is latest list published by the UK Government which is working on the Gov.Uk Portal as a one place for all data. Now the scope has also been expanded to include private data sources also and is made available in an API. Licensing is an factor to think about in this emerging area. The more open the better. Here is the technology stack for Gov.Uk portal reproduced from Cabinet Office Blog, UK.

Hosting and Infrastructure
  • DNS hosted by
  • Servers are Amazon EC2 instances running Ubuntu 10.04LTS
  • Email (internal alerts) sending via Amazon SES and Gmail
  • Miscellaneous file storage on Amazon S3
  • Jetty application server
  • Nginx, Apache and mod_passenger
  • Jenkins continuous integration server
  • Caching by Varnish
  • Configuration management using Puppet
Languages, Frameworks and Plugins
  • Most of the application code is written in Ruby, running on a mixture of Rails and Sinatra
    Rails and Sinatra gave us the right balance of productivity and clean code, and were well known to the team we’ve assembled. We’ve used a range of gems along with these, full details of which can be found in the Gemfiles at
  • The router is written in Scala and uses Scalatra for its internal API
    The router distributes requests to the appropriate backend apps, allowing us to keep individual apps very focussed on a particular problem without exposing that to visitors. We did a bake-off between a ruby implementation and a scala implementation and were convinced that the scala version was better able to handle the high level of concurrency this app will require.
  • MongoDB
    We started out building everything using MySQL but moved to MongoDB as we realised how much of our content fitted its document-centric approach. Over time we’ve been more and more impressed with it and expect to increase our usage of it in the future.
  • MySQL hosted using Amazon’s RDS platform
    Some of the data we need to store is still essentially relational and we use MySQL to store that. Amazon RDS takes away many of the scaling and resilience concerns we had with that without requiring changes to our application code.
  • MaPit geocoding and information service from mySociety
    MaPit not only does conventional geocoding (what’s the lon/lat for a postcode) but also gives us details of all the local government areas a postcode is in, which lets us point visitors to relevant local services
  • HTML & CSS (naturally), with elements from HTML5 & CSS3 where appropriate
  • Javascript uses jQuery, jQuery UI, Chosen, and a variety of other plugins
  • Gill Sans provided by
  • Google web font loader



Govhashing the Digital Agenda Assembly 2012 Open Source software and content

Govhash is dedicated to creating newer smarter and agile approach to solve governance issues. With that idea in mind we will be experimenting with the various open source solutions that are freely available for use. We will try to hash them to apply for newer geographies, domains or applications.

The Digital Agenda Assembly of the EU set a fine example for the OpenGov movement by making open the content and the platform. It is based on Drupal 7. The discussions are also available as a zip archive.

I tried installing the software on my shared hosting server, created the database table and tried to run the install script. It showed a MySQL error with PDO. On further enquiry I found that the error is because my shared host not providing the required MySQL version as per Drupal Requirements.

drupal daa12 pdo error

Lessons Learnt:

Check up the requirements and compatibility before installing any software.

When signing up for hosting be clear about your requirements and ensure that the service provider is supporting the specs.

White Paper on Open Data published by UK


The UK Government has released its Open Data white paper . Open data is all about putting transparency as the core of government and public services. Access, Standardization, Open format and “Presumption to publish” will be the concerns that will be kept in mind while making data open.

The files are embedded below:

Norway, UK open up Company Register Data

Open Data is all about providing access to data in easy machine readable formats for further use. Norway and recently UK have released their Company Register data via APIs. Its now possible to find new use cases to Company data. Indian Companies exploring EU markets can now have a better understanding of Businesses there.

Belgium is expected to publish its company register soon. Here is a graph showing countries and their progress in opening up company data, expectedly Norway leads the pack.


India does not figure in the list. These three countries are leading the pack among countries that signed the Open Government Partnership. India though is not a signatory has mode some progress by releasing a Open Government Platform in partnership with USA.

Further reading: